Spring/Summer 2016 Louis Vuitton

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Bosses at Louis Vuitton must be smiling like Cheshire cats, grinning from ear to ear, maybe even turning cartwheels – as well they should be. Fashion is in the flux of a game of musical chairs, again, and even the houses that aren’t, rumours will always circulate around them. But wow did Vuitton get it right when it hired Nicolas Ghesquière, who presented another stellar collection at the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation this morning on the final day of Paris Fashion Week.

A computerised voice introduced the spring/summer 2016 show as “A journey to the frontiers of the digital era”. Who knew where Ghesquière’s spirited parade of intergalactic punky girls were headed? Through some virtual parallel universe or to some underground nightclub – wherever it was, with that awesome wardrobe, we wanted in.

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Inspired by the heroines in video games: be they slayers, warriors, or upstart vixens, he hit refresh on the urban wardrobe and it packed a powerful punch. Models whose hands were banded in leather ready for fighting had a gait that was fast and mechanical. They wore rebooted kilts in studded leather with looped strapping, waistcoats in the classic graphic damier check, or leather jackets dripping in jangling zips and tricks with sleeves painted in red stripes and the house signature monogram.

A series of over-dyed washed silks were worked into jumpsuits, ankle-skimming gowns with studded bibs, or into a trench coat that looked like buttery suede. Ghesquière also brought back the return of colour-blocked Bermuda shorts and the bubble skirt, that Eighties favourite, now reprised in white cotton poplin. Their armoury included the mini locket bag studded and tasselled, and a larger carryall; imagine a bin bag bunched at the top, and carried on its side. Grounded with whip-stitched creeper sandals or polished steel toe-cap cowboy boots, it was romantic and tough in equal measures, and mined the house’s savoir-faire; craftsmanship was as much front and centre as the fantastical ideas. This was Ghesquière’s best collection yet, and a highlight of the entire season.

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Autumn/Winter 2015-16 Alexander McQueen

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That moment when a rose is on the verge of decay, when the petals turn floppy, soft and crinkled, is, says Sarah Burton a beautiful thing.

This show, staged at the Conciergerie in Paris, the vaulted chambers where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before being beheaded, and, for those who can remember, the venue for Lee McQueen’s first show in Paris thirteen years ago, where models walked with wolves on leashes, examined the beauty of those roses.
A wilting bouquet was the image featured on the shows invitation, photographed by David Sims in 2003. But the way Burton captured a fading rose, in its last days of existence was best executed in a three-dimensional skirt made from layered petals of whisper-weight organza, they formed pillow-y blooms that seemed to wilt even more in motion.

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Piled up, 18th Century hair, powdered faces and Miss Havisham tiered lace fishtail gowns that buttoned all the way up to Victorian collars added to the dark romance. This was McQueen at its most feminine, and in many ways, at its very best. Since Burton took the helm, the house has benefitted from a gentler hand, yes, it was still provocative, but without a hint of aggression.There were no hard edges, everything looked frayed, as though it had lived a life – which brings us back to that dying rose again.

Any leanings towards bondage – a regular occurrence here – were replaced with lingerie in the shape of lacy leather bras that extended up to chokers. Her tonal leather looks in head to toe putty pink were devastatingly pretty and informed by the idea of a rose’s layers; how each petal peels away.

It was a triumph.

 If you haven’t yet visited Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty Exhibition at the V&A I suggest you make a date in your diary. It isn’t a show you are going to want to miss.

Click here to read my review of the exhibition.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Whistles

WHAT better way to cement your reputation as the working woman’s go-to brand than to stage your spring/summer 2015 fashion show in an entrance tunnel to Kings Cross tube station? The novel idea came from Whistles, who in doing so cleverly took their customer off the catwalk and put her into context: on-the-go and always looking good. The tight edit of sleeveless jumpsuits, cutout dresses, tactile knits and statement jackets in a limited colour palette of white, black, peach and the palest of blue all emanated the brand’s progressive-but-pared-back mix and will no doubt fly off the shelves when they hit the shop floor next year. A very stylish commute beckons.

 

 


Spring/Summer 2015 Pringle of Scotland

Massimo Nicosia wanted to incorporate plenty of Pringle of Scotland’s almost 200-year history into his Spring ’15 collection. He did it in a very contemporary, perhaps even futuristic way, continuing his experiments in 3-D printing, a technique he first employed (to much acclaim) for Fall. This time around, Nicosia created a nylon-powder chain mail. Assembled with panels of woven cotton and silk, it was used for airy, funky tops and a dress. “I wanted to combine the artificial and the natural,” Nicosia said of the 3-D printed looks. However, the high-tech textile wasn’t the designer’s only forward-thinking interpretation of Pringle’s signature knitwear. 

Leather embellishments on a diaphanous white dress mimicked a cardigan stitch—the tactile effect was slick, and it made more than a few of the audience to do a double take during its trip down the runway. Similarly, traditional pullovers were completely reimagined; in one instance, loosely woven threads were trapped inside a mesh casing. In another, fil coupe fragments in watery hues of green and violet were patched onto a roomy organdy jumper.

Water was a primary point of reference for Nicosia this season. Using Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais and Pablo Picasso’s The Bathers as inspiration, he attempted to translate its lightness, transparency, and reflective properties into fabric. This resulted in a number of sheer silk tops with woven collars and sleeves. A few of them were covered in translucent turquoise triangles that protruded from the chest—they were meant to act as prisms. Elsewhere, silver beads were used sparingly on a honeycomb knit dress to provide just a hint of shimmer. That piece stood out for its serene simplicity.

Returning to Pringle’s heritage, Nicosia played with the idea of lingerie (the house manufactured undergarments back in the day), and turned out hyper-thin silk knit tanks and bodysuits. Pleated and leather-trimmed skirts felt a little stiff and lacked the liquidity of Nicosia’s refreshing dresses and tops, but on the whole, the designer produced an innovative—and versatile—Spring lineup that will appeal to loyal Pringle customers and beyond.

Shop the beautiful and elegant artwork of Pringle of Scotland Spring/Summer 2015 below: